Why 20 amino acids?

Kazuaki Amikura, Daisuke Kiga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is generally accepted that primitive genetic codes employed fewer than 20 amino acids. In other words, biochemistry in a primitive cell was realized by using simplified proteins including only the amino acids that were considered to be used in primitive genetic codes. We wonder whether it is possible to construct such biochemical systems using simplified proteins. In this paper, we will describe previous studies about the number of amino acids in genetic codes and introduce our research in order to answer the question. In our recent study for construction of simplified genetic code, codons for amino acids are reassigned to alanine or serine to reduce a number of amino acids in the engineered code. Simplified genetic codes will provide an effective tool for construction of simplified proteins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-393
Number of pages2
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jun
Externally publishedYes


  • Amino acids
  • Engineering
  • Evolution
  • Genetic code
  • Origin of life
  • Protein
  • TRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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